Understanding and Recognizing Alcoholism

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/20/2021
Fast, Free & Confidential Help Is Available 24/7.
Call now for:
  • Access to the Best Rehab Centers
  • 24 Hour Support when YOU need it
  • Financial Assistance Programs
Who Answers?

One of the first things you can do if you suspect someone you love may be suffering from an alcohol addiction is to consider why you feel this way and what evidence you have that they are addicted to alcohol. The following are some of the strong signs of an alcoholic. Your parent does not need to show all of these signs for there to be a problem, but the more signs are present, the more certain you can be that there is an addiction in need of professional treatment.

  • Drinking more or longer than one originally intended to
  • Trying to cut back or stop drinking but being unable to do so
  • Getting hurt more than once while drinking
  • Experiencing a tolerance for alcohol that causes one to drink larger amounts to experience the same effects
  • Experiencing health problems associated with one’s drinking but continuing to drink anyway
  • Spending a lot of time drinking and recovering from it
  • Spending a lot of money on alcohol and other aspects of drinking
  • Experiencing problems at home, work, or school because of one’s drinking
  • Getting arrested or experiencing legal problems associated with one’s drinking
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of not drinking

If you have noticed your mother experiencing several signs of an alcoholic in the past year, she is very likely suffering from alcoholism and will need help.

Staging an Intervention

Often, it is very hard for a child to tell their parent they need to seek help for addiction, even when the two individuals are both adults. Therefore, you may want to avoid making the conversation about your mom’s substance abuse your responsibility alone and instead stage an intervention.

  • Choose about six of your mother’s closest friends, family members, and loved ones. Make sure these are people whose opinions she cares about and who have experienced her drinking and its issues firsthand. You will likely discover that lots of people in your mother’s life are aware of the problem, but couldn’t bring themselves to speak up until you opened the door to the conversation.
  • Ask everyone to write down what they would like to say to your mother about her substance abuse and their concerns. Then, everyone can read what they’ve written aloud at the intervention. This will keep people from saying things they don’t really mean in the heat of the moment.
  • Always make sure you have a treatment program lined up for your mother’s care so that if she agrees to seek help, there won’t be any lag time in between. While you are consulting a treatment program, you can ask them questions about the intervention and treatment. Be prepared to discuss insurance and payment options.
  • If your mother does not agree to begin treatment, it is important to tell her what consequences this will bring on (you will no longer be able to loan her money for alcohol, you will no longer talk to her about her addiction, etc.), and make sure to follow through on what you say.

Getting Her Help and Being Supportive

If your mother does agree to seek help, now is the most important time to show her that you will support her in her recovery and be there with her every step of the way. Although ultimately, your mother’s recovery is up to her, your support can strengthen her and increase the benefits of her treatment program, as well as make her more likely to stay in treatment.

  • If your mother decides to seek inpatient care, call and visit her often to show you are still thinking about her even while she’s in treatment.
  • You can also choose to go to a family therapy program with your mother to work through the issues you are both experiencing and to help heal your relationship. You can even learn to recognize enabling behaviors you may have engaged in and how to avoid them.
  • It will also help your mother––and you––if you choose to seek your treatment, especially if you are carrying hurt feelings or resentments about her drinking. You can achieve this through one-on-one therapy or attending a support groupfor the family members of alcoholics like Al-Anon or Alateen, fellowships that guide family members through their 12-step process and offer help and support to those who have been affected by a loved one’s alcoholism.